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One of the things I’m doing during our lockdown is to try to learn some new party skills. After all, I’ve got a basement full of craft and party supplies that I’ve bought with good intentions but haven’t gotten around to using. So when I had leftover flowers from my rainbow flowers for St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d try to work on using Oasis to arrange flowers.

I’m certainly no flower designer, but I also can’t afford to purchase professionally arranged flowers all the time. So I started with three packs of grocery store flowers, a block of Oasis and a low, narrow vase and started experimenting.

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How many flowers do you need?

To judge how many flowers you need, pick your vase first. Better to buy too many flowers than to have too few. If you have flowers left over, you can always make some mini arrangements for side tables or your powder room. My vase is 12″ long x 4.5″ tall x 6″ wide and I used about 25 stems for a front-facing arrangement.

Obviously, an arrangement that has only one front will take fewer flowers (and cost less). If you want to create a centerpiece that will be viewed from all sides, you will need more flowers. In my case, I might have needed 15 more stems.

This post from Blooms by the Box gives you a handy chart with recommended stem counts. They also offer this helpful centerpiece tutorial.

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What flowers should you buy?

  • Look for flowers with sturdy stems. Hollow-stemmed flowers, like tulips, are delicate and floppy. They won’t position well into the Oasis.
  • You’ll also want a mix of sizes. The bigger the flower head, the fewer flowers you’ll need. But, you’ll still want some smaller heads to fill in smaller spots in your arrangement. You’ll also want greenery to use as filler.
  • Choose a “focal flower” — this is just a flower that will attract the most attention in your arrangement. For mine, it was the sunflowers.
  • The color scheme is up to you. Obviously, I went for rainbow flowers. Ombre or monochromatic or two-tone arrangements can be just as pretty.

What is Oasis?

Oasis is a foam brick designed for floral arranging. You wet it and it retains water. I was shocked at how much longer my flowers stayed fresh in the Oasis compared to just being in water. Since you’re sticking the stems in the foam, they stay in place — which is the real magic. You can also trim it to fit your vase. Be sure to choose a vase or container that isn’t glass, because the Oasis isn’t pretty. Buy it here or an Amazon.

Instructions

1 – Soak the oasis in water for a few minutes. You don’t need to submerge it.

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2 – Position the Oasis in your container. Cut to fit with a knife, if needed.

3 – Before you begin, think about the shape you want your arrangement to take. I wanted an asymmetrical, more modern shape — a taller portion, plus stems cascading off the sides. That meant my stems had to be cut to different lengths.

The overall height of your arrangement needs to be in proportion to your vase and how you’re using it:

  • If you’re creating a centerpiece, guests (generally) need to see over the vase, so the vase may be shorter and the arrangement may be just 1.5 x the height of the vase.
  • A tall vase — like you might use in an entryway — would have flowers that are 2.5 x the height of the vase.

I eye-balled the length of each stem by holding it vertically next to the vase. (Be sure to cut your stems at an angle.)

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4 – You typically start an arrangement by building a greenery basis, but I didn’t have much greenery, so I skipped that step. Instead, I filled in gaps with a few pieces of greenery at the end.

5 – Place your focal flowers first. Push them about halfway into the Oasis so they have good support. The stems don’t have to hit the bottom of your vase.

6 – When you place your flowers, think in terms of triangles. You are going for balance, but the flowers don’t need to be symmetrically arranged. The triangle positioning helps you achieve that balance.

Also, when you choose your flowers think about how color and size can contribute to balance. For example: group of smaller-headed yellow flowers could balance a large sunflower.

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7 – Create an outline of your shape — again using your larger flower heads. You can see how I established my taller side with lilies and peach roses.

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8 – Once you have the larger flower heads positioned, you can start filling in with smaller flowers. To maintain balance, I worked with all of one flower, then all of another. That kept me thinking in terms of triangles.

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9 – Every so often, stand back and look at where you have gaps. Also check to see if you are maintaining your shape outline.

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10 – The tall purple flowers were among the last stems I placed. (And I balanced those with additional purple flowers, placed front and center. See the triangle?)

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11 – Remember we said this is a front-facing arrangement? Here’s a view from the top and back, so you can see the space that didn’t get filled.

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Here’s a look at the finished arrangement, and where we enjoyed it — on the sideboard in our kitchen.

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The flowers continued to open up throughout the week and really lasted. In fact, I pulled out one or two blooms that went over and kept the whole of the arrangement for a solid seven days. Even then, when it was time to let the big arrangement go, I removed several buds, cut them down to mini vase size and we all had individual arrangements at our dinner table for another week.

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